Nreal Air Review: Great, But Could It Be the Future?

There’s a lot of discussion about AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) on the internet, so I won’t add more fuel to the fire, but one of the things we noticed when using the Nreal Air is that VR deception severely diminishes AR’s advantages and overall practicality. Perhaps the main reason why the technology has not progressed at all may be the lack of hardware. But now that we’ve finally got our first look at AR tech, hopefully it won’t die anytime soon (*cough Google Glasses), here’s a review of Nreal Air, which makes us think that AR might be the metaverse future we’ve been waiting for.

Nreal Air: Features

The folks at Nreal sent us an OPPO Find X3 Pro to test the Air glasses, the Nreal adapter, Apple’s Lightning to HDMI digital AV adapter, and the glasses on both Apple and Android devices. That said, here are the key features of Nreal Air.

Specification Detail
view 3840 x 1080p with 108% sRGB coverage
400 nits brightness, 46 degree Angle of View, 49 PPD,
130-inch screen at broadcast, 201-inch in MR field
head tracking 3DoF head tracking
sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Proximity sensor
Sound Two open-ear speakers, dual microphone array, Echo cancellation, speech enhancement
Price $379

Nreal Air: Build Quality

Nreal Air looks like your regular sunglasses, but given their bulky appearance, people will have no trouble understanding that it’s a gadget. However, it is heavy and instantly recognizable when you wear it. However, wearing it for longer sessions shouldn’t be a problem for most, as the weight is evenly distributed throughout the chassis.

Nreal Air Chassis

The Air folds up like regular sunglasses, and while the temples are significantly larger, it still feels like regular sunglasses. There is a Type-C port at the end of the left temple, while the bottom of the right temple houses the power and brightness control buttons. The speakers are placed on either side of the temples and are stereo.

Nreal Air Speakers
Power and brightness control buttons in Nreal Air

The handles themselves have three levels of adjustment and can be adjusted using the hinge. There is a proximity sensor on the front and the nose pads are user replaceable; It comes in three sizes – small, medium and large.

The screens are well housed in the glasses and frame and don’t feel like they’re popping out from below. The top of the glass houses the electrical components of the displays. In the box, you also get a plastic cap that attaches to the outside of the glasses to give you an essentially black canvas and separate you from your surroundings.

Nreal Air Sides
Nreal Air from the side

Overall, the build quality is pretty impressive and top-notch. The hinges feel solid, the plastic used is excellent, and the overall arrangement of the items is top notch.

Nreal Air: Software

This is where things get a little tricky. The glasses connect to your iPhone or Android phone via the Type-C port, but there is a problem. Only phones that support viewing over Type-C will work. Nreal’s one list of supported phones website and mostly includes devices from manufacturers such as OnePlus, OPPO, LG, Sony and Samsung. Similarly, iPhones support viewing via the lightning port, but you’ll need to use Apple’s AV adapter for that. However, Mac and Windows support is still in Beta and expected to arrive later this year.

As soon as you put on the glasses, supported devices notify you and ask if the connected device can be used as a display. All you have to do is allow it, download the Nreal app (visit) and open it, let everything update and settle in and voila, you can now use AR Space or Air Casting. The AR area is Nreal’s AR interface, while Air Casting can cast the connected device’s screen to the glasses.

Nreal Air Review: Great, But Could It Be the Future?

AR Space is the main software space of Nreal Air. Put on the headset and get a VR-like experience. The AR space comes with a few apps like YouTube, a browser, and a few pre-installed games and apps. However, there aren’t many apps at the moment, which is fair considering the platform is fairly new and developers will need time to find the SDK.

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However, AR Area loads up to 130 inches wide, and you can enable head and body tracking to navigate the same way. The overall interface is pretty basic, but it will improve over the next few months.

Real Weather Nebula

The 46-degree Viewing Angle isn’t much, and you’ll find yourself adjusting the screen a bit too much based on the type of content you consume. Navigating the UI using your phone is no problem and tracking is in place. Screen mirroring works fine without any issues, so no issues there either. Overall, the UI is lacking at the moment but it definitely has the potential to be much better.

Nreal Air Usage Examples: Steam Deck and Phone

While AR Space and its apps aren’t its strength right now, it works well as a secondary display. I’ve been using the glasses for over two months now and one use case where they’re really great is when they’re used as a secondary display. I use them with the Steam Deck and my experience playing games with them has been phenomenal.

Nreal Air for starters, OLED displays from SonyRefreshing at 60 Hz (72 Hz peak: we’ll get to that later) and a pixel density of 49 pixels per degree, the screen looks really sharp at 1080p. OLED means colors are vibrant and lifelike, and when combined with 400 nits maximum brightness, using Nreal Air is an experience in itself.

Steam Deck Nreal Air inside
Steam Deck Nreal Air inside

Plug it in and the Steam Deck will automatically turn off its default screen, switch to the Nreal Air screen and you can start playing. My only complaint when gaming using glasses is that it doesn’t support gyroscope yet with the Steam Deck. Generally, if you need to look at the HUD while gaming, most people tend to move their heads rather than their eyeballs when playing on larger monitors.

Since the Air doesn’t support the Deck and the Gyro, your natural instinct to look at the edges of the screen with a slight nod may seem strange. And it’s not easy to get used to shaking your eyes instead of your head when wearing glasses.

Nreal Air with Steam Bundle
Nreal Air with Steam Bundle

However, Nreal said it is working on an accessory or researching software solutions to fix this issue. We hope the company will get the latter, as people may not want to spend extra on hardware and carry two adapters with them, especially if they have an iPhone. As for the Steam Deck’s impact on battery life, it’s not much. The Steam Deck is known to have a pretty average battery, and in our testing, the effect of having glasses connected on the Steam Deck’s screen versus playing games resulted in 10-15 minutes less battery life, which is a fair trade-off.

Nreal Adapter with Apple AV adapter
Nreal Adapter with Apple AV adapter

This stereo speakers are not that good and there’s noticeable distortion at higher volumes when trying to make a rumbling sound. The open design means a lot of sound is lost before it reaches your ear, but it can be enough if you’re watching a YouTube video or listening to a podcast. Note that at higher volumes, the person sitting next to you can hear what you are listening to.

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As for your phone, the AR Space feature caused our test device OPPO Find X3 Pro with Snapdragon 888 to heat up significantly. Now, we’re not sure if this is a Qualcomm issue because the Snapdragon 888 is arguably one of the worst modern flagship chipsets the chipmaker has ever released, but temperatures have climbed to relevant levels. Mirroring, on the other hand, doesn’t use up most of the phone’s resources, so things stay just as cool.

real weather nebula X3 Pro

As for how it affects the battery, it depends on the type of device. Using the AR space uninterruptedly on the Find X3 Pro with a 4500 mAh battery gave us about 4.5 hours of battery, which is pretty good. If you have a relatively modern phone with the latest Qualcomm processor that doesn’t heat up and a larger battery, you should be able to beat the 5-hour mark.

Nreal Air: Additional Features

  • The screen can be refreshed at 72 Hz by enabling the option from Developer Settings.
  • For the nearsighted, the glasses come with a numbered lens frame that you can wear for vision correction. Or a more economical solution would be to buy a pair of contact lenses, which is what I did.
  • Support for Windows and Mac is coming soon. You can join Nreal Discord server to access Beta versions of the same.
  • You can sideload a bunch of apps. Nreal’s AR Lab Web site.

Nreal Air: AR Future or Not?

The answer is too early to tell. While AR will take a significant amount of time and developer support to reach new heights, Nreal Air isn’t something you want to wear every day, just use it as an accessory to your phone or Steam Deck whenever you feel like it. Using it, AR has seen improvements over the years in games like Pokemon Go, which uses the technology to its fullest, but both the technology and Nreal have a long way to go.

One of the main tasks Nreal has to solve is the direction in which it wants to shape the user interface and app development to lead Nreal glasses. While it definitely feels like it’s coming, it also feels half-baked and incomplete. Similarly, the lack of ability to interact with your surroundings means Nreal Air doesn’t offer a true AR experience.

Nreal Air Steam Deck finale
Nreal Air and Steam Bundle

On the other hand, it’s a great device if you want to have a secondary display. But is it wise to spend $400 when you can buy a good monitor for half the price? Still, Nreal Air can be a great travel companion for your Steam Deck or phone for privacy entertainment.

The huge and vibrant screen will enhance your experience; however, since it is an AR device, you will still be aware of your surroundings. AR still has a long way to go, but it is now proving to be a much more efficient, futuristic, development-friendly and, more importantly, human-friendly technology that will help us build the world we are used to seeing all day. . For those who need a full fledged AR experience, Nreal Light may be for you.

For an asking price of $379, Nreal Air is on the expensive side, but if you want to be one of the first to experience AR’s capabilities and become familiar with the technology, it might be the best out there. It’s a great accessory for the Steam Deck, works great as a secondary display, works on your phone, and overall feels like (almost) your regular sunglasses.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build Quality
view
Comfort
Software (AR Space)
Speakers
From Price to Performance